With today’s story, idol hooves are the devil’s workshop.
The Truth Hurts
[Dark] [Sad] [Slice of Life] • 4,914 words
Lightning Dust has been in a bit of a rut ever since getting kicked out of the Wonderbolt Academy. Day after day, she’s been sticking to a strict exercise regimen under the guidance of Cloudsdale’s premier personal trainer, Haymaker. Her hope is that she’ll unlock her true potential and show Haymaker how awesome she is, thus prompting him to use his connections to get her back into the Wonderbolts. No matter how many times Haymaker tells her it’s impossible, Lightning simply refuses to listen.
Then one fateful night, Lightning Dust’s training is interrupted by the appearance of her greatest idol, Wind Rider. It turns out he too has difficulty accepting reality, and he has his own, more nefarious schemes to get himself back in the game. Haymaker sees this as his last chance to save Lightning Dust from walking Wind Rider’s path. And if that means rubbing salt in a few wounds and shattering a few dreams, then so be it.
FROM THE CURATORS: Sometimes, a story’s brilliance lies in expressing one of life’s greatest rarities — a truly original idea. “Lightning Dust is a character I tend to forget was ever on the show,” Present Perfect said in his nomination. “Therefore, it’s maybe easy to see why no one ever considered comparing her to dethroned Wonderbolt Wind Rider before. But it’s so obvious in hindsight.” Soge agreed, and added: “Having read the story, it really surprises me that this is the only fic tagged with both characters on the site.”
Though there was some curator dissent on the quality of the execution, there was none on what made it exemplary. “What makes this story work, beyond that excellent premise, is the portrayal of the characters,” Present Perfect said, echoed by Soge: “The concept is strong enough to make it memorable, and it is executed perfectly well, thanks to the snappy dialogue and pitch-perfect characterization.” And FanOfMostEverything pointed out that it wasn’t just the protagonists done well: “Haymaker really ties it all together, knowing when to offer wisdom and when to just shine a spotlight on bullcrap.”
And ultimately, the story talked about redemption in a way that reflected the core of the show. “I can’t help but draw parallels between Lightning Dust and Sunset Shimmer here,” FanOfMostEverything said. “Both prodigies, both arrogant, both humbled by a member of the Mane Six. The difference is that Twilight gave Sunset a support network. Haymaker tries to act as that for Lightning, but she’s not yet seen the error of her ways. Seeing Wind Rider’s true colors is, appropriately enough, her rainbow to the face.” Soge summed it up: “I got left with the feeling that Lightning Dust has a real shot at redemption here, so long as she is able to change her path radically.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Metool Bard discusses dark mirrors, pegasus partiality, and never-ending hurricanes.
Give us the standard biography.
Hi-ho. Sheesh, I never thought I’d be doing one of these.
The name’s Metool Bard. I’m a librarian by day, and a creative writer by … days when I’m not working. I’ve always enjoyed a good story, and creative writing has been one of my favorite pastimes for as long as I can remember — fanfiction or otherwise. There’s not much else to me than that without delving into some rather personal information.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
This is actually kinda a funny story, and I actually wrote a blog about it a few years ago. Simply put, when I got my start as a fanfiction writer in the Mega Man community, I created a bunch of metool characters that lived on a floating island in the middle of a never-ending hurricane.
Yes, I am very weird. Why do you ask?
Anyway, I became so well-known for those characters over in that community that I simply decided to adopt metools as part of my online persona in general. The Bard part is pretty self-explanatory.
Who’s your favorite pony?
Hard to pick just one, but I’ve honestly always been partial to the pegasi. Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Scootaloo, Spitfire, Daring Do, and Derpy are all among my faves. If I had to pick just one, well, I would have to say Flutters. I simply relate to her the most, being a socially-awkward introvert myself.
What’s your favorite episode?
I have a few, but if you were to twist my arm, I’d say Rarity Investigates! Between a more positive portrayal of the Wonderbolts, a solid mystery, and just fun moments all around, it honestly felt like DHX made an episode specifically for me to enjoy. Honorable mentions include Testing, Testing, 1 2 3 for brilliant world-building and a resonant moral about education, Tanks for the Memories for its stirring portrayal of the grieving process, and Flutter Brutter for being an excellent payoff to Fluttershy’s character development up to that point.
What do you get from the show?
Besides inspiration for my writing? Like I said before, I enjoy a good story, and the show has plenty of them. And truth be told, the morals do resonate with me from time to time, so there’s that, too.
What do you want from life?
Balance between my work and my writing. And whatever else may come my way.
Why do you write?
It’s really kind of an impulse for me. Once I have the inspiration for a story, be it an episode from the show, something that happens in my life, or what have you, I feel the urge to write it down. That, and it is something of an escape for me (not unlike any other hobby).
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Don’t do what I do.
Seriously, I’ll be the first to admit that my writing technique is not ideal for serious authors. My writing is often stream-of-consciousness, and I don’t often use editors (thus leading to a lot of post-production in my stories). But apart from that, actually care about what you’re writing. If you don’t care, you’re not giving your audience a reason to care, either.
What inspired “The Truth Hurts”?
When I wrote this story, I felt that the comparison between Lightning Dust and Wind Rider was untapped potential. Both of these characters are dark mirrors of Rainbow Dash, but they are diametrically opposed in terms of their courage. One is a reckless loose cannon willing to push herself to greatness despite the consequences, while the other is a coward willing to hurt anyone to maintain his greatness. I already set a precedent to Lightning Dust training under Haymaker in a previous story, Wonder-Breezies, so I decided to use that to set the stage for the confrontation.
What spark does Haymaker see in Lightning Dust that makes him want to keep working with her?
People often compare Lightning Dust to Rainbow Dash in Season 1, and I think that’s not that far from the mark in terms of how Haymaker sees her. Lightning Dust is a talented mare with a lot of raw potential, but when it comes to curbing her ego and taking responsibility for her actions, well … if the episode Wonderbolts Academy is anything to go by, that kinda stuff doesn’t come naturally to her. She certainly isn’t going to be let back into the Academy until she fully understands why what she did was wrong.
I feel that Haymaker secretly holds out for that time when Lightning will smarten up and fly right. But failing that, he hopes to prevent her from destroying herself chasing a dream she has very little chance of catching (at least with her current mindset).
Does Wind Rider already have a plan in mind when he shows up at Haymaker’s gym, or is he just reacting to the situation he finds there?
It’s definitely the second thing, unless you think he somehow knew he’d meet one of his biggest fans in that gym. That’s not to say he wasn’t scheming beforehand; he just didn’t have a concrete plan until Lightning Dust started fawning over him. And let’s be real: he probably is the type of pony who would leap at the chance to manipulate a fan into doing his bidding.
Do you see Lightning Dust coming back to train with Haymaker after all this?
Probably yes. While Lightning Dust knows she doesn’t want to end up like Wind Rider, I can’t imagine her giving up on her Wonderbolt dream that easily. Beyond that, well, we’ll have to wait for her to return in the series proper, won’t we?
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
While my goal in writing has never been to become famous, it is always an honor to have this kind of recognition. I’m glad you enjoyed this little tale I have woven, and I hope to continue writing more insightful stories about our favorite pastel ponies. And with that, I bid you adieu.